Talk:Fairey Swordfish

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Longevity[edit]

The fact that it remained in service so long may be related to the failure of the Germans to complete the German aircraft carrier Graf Zeppelin. It had no danger of encountering fighters, when far from land. The slow speed made it able to operate in worse weather, and therefor farther north than a monoplane could have. David R. Ingham 18:23, 31 July 2006 (UTC)

It was actually because the Swordfish was almost perfect for operating of the small Escort carriers, and could fly (as you state) in almost any weather, as well as being able to carry, bombs, torpedoes, rockets, mines, depth charges, etc., as well as ASV radar. The small size of the escort carrier is also why the Grumman Wildcat/Martlet was able to be useful long after it was obsolete, as it could also be operated of the smaller carriers. Had Germany launched the Graf Zeppelin then that would have had a similar implications for other allied carrier-based aircraft, such as the Martlet/Wildcat, Hellcat, Barracuda, Albacore, etc., not just the Swordfish. Against the Bf 109T that it was intended to equip the Graf Zeppelin with, they would all have had a pretty hard time, only the Seafire being a match for the Messerschmitt. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 86.112.65.59 (talk) 11:02, 22 July 2010 (UTC)
A Wildcat would be more than a match for a Bf 109T (which was, after all, merely a navalized Bf 109E), let alone a Hellcat.--172.190.106.69 (talk) 05:10, 3 February 2013 (UTC)

Radar[edit]

The article claims that radar was not introduced until 1943. One of the references for the article, http://www.kbismarck.com/article2.html , says that it was used by the a/c that hit the Bismarck. So, was that a prototype fitment? Greglocock 01:16, 22 February 2007 (UTC)

The article refers to "centimetric radar" invented in the autumn of 1942. This was an improved form and capable of detecting much smaller objects and not picked up by the existing German radar search receivers. In 1941 the FAA Swordfish certainly carried radar. (See references Kemp p. 277 & Kennedy p. 111 in main article)

Jpacobb (talk) 18:12, 5 September 2011 (UTC)jpacobb

Question/Suggestion[edit]

It would be great to include information on where the crewmembers sat. Are they in a row? Is the pilot first? Also, under history it is not clear what "HMS Warspite spotted fall of shot" means. User:JHamiltonGreenHarbor May 2007

In then-contemporary Royal Navy terminology 'Spotting' (as in the 'Torpedo/Spotter/Reconnaissance' designation for the Swordfish) meant observing ('spotting') the impact points of a battleship's big guns and then radioing back corrections to the ship. In the days before the widespread introduction of radar it was easy enough to get azimuth (i.e., direction) of a target correct, but range was another matter. A battleship's guns might have a range of ten to fifteen miles or more, and gauging the correct elevation for the guns (i,e. the range to the target) from the ship itself was not possible over such distances. So, the 'spotter' aircraft was flown-off and would then position itself somewhere where it could see the shells impacting. The battleship would then fire its guns and the aircraft would radio back to the ship corrections such as 'Down 5 degrees', 'Up 2 degrees', etc., to zero-in the guns onto the target. When this had been achieved and the target was seen by the spotter to be being hit the message radioed back was 'On target' and the ship would then continue firing on the current bearing/elevation. In Army terminology the corresponding role was carried out by an 'Air Observation Post' (AOP) aircraft such as the Auster.
The term 'spotter' has the same meaning in the term trainspotter, meaning someone who takes an inordinate interest in seeing/observing something. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 86.112.68.219 (talk) 13:30, 24 July 2011 (UTC)

Correction of stringbag nick name[edit]

The article makes out the swordfish's nickname came-by in comparison to the 1930's to 1960's stile of shopping bag the 'string-bag'.This is false, the nickname was applied to the swordfish due to the ground crews ability to repair the swordfish. The swordfish on most fleet air arm carriers where often said to be ' made out of bits of string and patch's. I intend to change this article on October the 14th 2007. If you wish to object to me edditing this article, please raise your objections by October 14th 2007. I thought it is only polite to give a fortnight's warning before changing any persons work. Bye TheJackle 23:41, 29 September 2007 (UTC)

Well actually it was I who added the current (correct) explanation several years ago although I didn't have a reference to-hand at the time, luckily someone else has read the relevant book and re-instated the text. I prefer to take Charles Lamb's word for it, as he was there at the time:
Lamb, Charles.War in a Stringbag. London: Cassell & Co., 2001. ISBN 0-304-35841-X.
As he said, it got its nickname because of what it could carry - like a housewife's 'string bag' —Preceding unsigned comment added by 86.112.65.59 (talk) 10:44, 22 July 2010 (UTC)
For whatever reason which perhaps only Their Lordships know, the Swordfish was comprehensively tested ('clearance trials') by the A&AEE at such places as Martlesham Heath and later Boscombe Down for safely carrying and dropping just about every FAA and naval air-droppable store that was then, or subsequently became available. That meant several Marks of 18" torpedo, numerous types and sizes of mine, bomb, rocket, depth charge, etc., and the notable thing about the Swordfish was that if you mentioned some obscure type of store, and enquired if it was cleared for the Swordfish, the answer was almost invariably 'yes'.
Hence; 'it could carry anything'.
BTW, the term 'clearance' means that the bomb or other weapon being dropped or fired 'clears' the aeroplane safely without causing damage to or posing a danger to the aircraft. New aircraft and new weapons are tested for this, hence 'clearance trials'. If an aeroplane has been tested with a particular weapon and has passed successfully the aircraft is said to be 'cleared' for that weapon and that weapon may be carried and used by it. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 80.7.147.13 (talk) 20:05, 2 January 2014 (UTC)

May 1941[edit]

From article (see May 1941.) "(These two points are disputed and may be an urban myth.)" — Robert Greer (talk) 15:35, 26 March 2009 (UTC)

nightfly ability[edit]

In the article about the Taranto Raid it is stated that the Swordfish were able to perfom night missions. How was the RN to be able to do this not even the USN was capable nightraids during the whole Pacific Campaign.

see Mitschers risky attack in the Battle of the Phillipinean Sea.--88.153.18.118 (talk) 23:10, 26 September 2009 (UTC)

All RN (FAA) and RAF pilots had full night flying training throughout the war, whereas IIRC, for the US, because of the haste with which the expanded flying training schools were organised after Pearl Harbour it was deemed unnecessary to train pilots, other than night fighter ones, for night flying. It took the RAF and FAA roughly as long again to train a pilot to fly at night as it did to train a pilot to fly in the first place, so it doubled the time taken to train a pilot. The US didn't regard this as being needed as their doctrine advocated daylight (VFR) operations almost exclusively and in 1941-42 they were in a desperate hurry to increase the number of pilots available. For the RAF and FAA however, their flying training organisation had been set up during the relatively quiet phase of the war and was based all over the British Commonwealth and USA, and so training could be carried out in a more measured fashion, and because of the longer 'lead-in' of pilots available to them they never needed to reduce training to daylight only.
The reason that all RAF pilots had full IFR (night flying) training was because a pilot from a day fighter squadron might later find himself being transferred to a bomber squadron (and vice-versa), and by 1941 most of RAF Bomber Command's operation were at night, so it was important that any pilot could be used in any role. This is also the reason that the USAAC/USAAF never really considered going over to night bombing when their losses became serious, as they would have needed to re-train their bomber pilots to fly at night, which would have taken considerable time and halted their bomber offensive completely. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 86.112.65.59 (talk) 09:41, 22 July 2010 (UTC)

Impossible claim[edit]

"...torpedo release altitude of 18 ft (5.5 m).[1] Maximum range of the early Mark XII torpedo was 1,500 yd (1400 m).[2] The torpedo traveled 200 yd (180 m) forward from release to water impact, "

Thats physically impossible. If a torpedo is released 18 feet above the water, at any speed, it is not going to travel 600 feet ( 200 yd ) before it hits the water. Unless it is actually a cruise missile, which the torpedos the Swordfish was dropping, were not.Eregli bob (talk) 04:53, 20 May 2010 (UTC)

I agree it is impossible. If dropped from 18 feet, a torpedo would fall for under 1.2 seconds and travel horizontally about 227 feet if released at 121 knots. Kennedy gives the rules for release as speed 90 knots, height 90 feet, range 900 yards[1]

Jpacobb (talk) 18:28, 5 September 2011 (UTC)jpacobb


Bismark AA fire control[edit]

I've seen the claim made elsewhere in several sources that the Swordfish escaped the Bismark's anti-aircraft fire because they were flying slower than the ship's gun predictors could allow for. The claim seems to not make sense to me. But I'm not knowledgeable at all about the Bismark or Naval AA gunnery so I'm wary of sticking in a "dubious-discuss" in the article. I will however, set down here why I think its odd the Bismark found it difficult to engage slow flying aircraft.

  • Any aircraft making a torpedo attack must fly low and slow to ensure the torpedo enters the water cleanly (see above, 90 feet, 90 knots). Having a gun predictor with a minimum speed greater than this makes no sense.
  • The Bismark was designed in the mid-30's, during the biplane era, when the designers would surely think attack by slower, biplane aircraft as being likely.
  • Do you even need a gun predictor when an torpedo-carrying aircraft is flying directly towards you - a zero deflection shot is the term I think?

The trouble is, so few of the Bismark's crew survived to report on what the battle was like from their point of view. So unless somebody is willing to trawl the interrogation reports of the Bismark survivors, its easy for 'facts' to go unchallenged for decades. My personal suspicion was was that it was a newly commissioned ship, the gunners were still inexperienced and perhaps they just weren't very good (am I right in thinking the Swordfish attack was the Bismark's first ever engagement with hostile aircraft). However I'll happily stand corrected if there are reliable sources supporting the orthodox view of the attack.Catsmeat (talk) 10:57, 22 April 2015 (UTC)

The Swordfish was a very capable dive-bomber. FAA doctrine called for the Swordfish to make torpedo attacks using a steep diving approach to the target, level off for just a few seconds, drop the torpedo and turn sharply away. This meant that the aircraft was never "straight and level" long enough for medium calibre AA fire firecontrol to generate an accurate fire control solution. All WW2 AA computers could only make accurate predictions based upon targets moving in a straight line. It seems likely that this was the reason that none were shot down by Bismarck. However, it is difficult to find a reference for this.Damwiki1 (talk) 16:40, 22 April 2015 (UTC)

Swordfish the best anti-shipping aircraft in terms of tonnage sunk[edit]

Ross Kemp, in "Raiders" page 6 (Random House, London, 2012 ISBN 9781780890555)says that the Swordfish "would account for sinking a greater tonnage of Axis shipping than any Allied aircraft of the war" I thought this should be included in the introductory section for this article if true. On Page 9, he says that the Swordfish was able to escape being shot down by Me 109's because it was so much more manoeuvrable, and could take an awful lot of damage (bullets would just go straight through the fabric-covered surfaces). In Norway, German fighters sometimes crashed into the steep rock faces of coastline while trying to shoot down Swordfish as they twisted and turned.Sitalkes (talk) 12:33, 5 May 2015 (UTC)

  1. ^ Kennedy, Ludovic. Pursuit: The Sinking of the Bismarck p.161